Boasting the only children's museum in the country that deals with immigration, the appropriate-for-the-kiddies Swedish American History Museum Center is just as appropriate for the adults in tow. Though the historically Swedish population largely moved out of Andersonville in the mid 1940s, the Museum Center remains an anchor for the neighborhood, drawing its target audience of Swedish-Americans to the surrounding blocks of ethnic stores and restaurants.
Even though the museum's focus is Swedish culture (a different exhibit of Swedish artwork fills the first floor gallery space every month), the museum proves appealing for Chicago history novices as well. From maps illustrating community settlement in Chicago for all immigrants to artifacts relating to Swedish life in the city that date back 150 years, the museum proves a piece of Chicago's rich past. Large-scale displays, complete with life-like models, depict life in the early years following Swedish immigration to Chicago.
The alluring full-scale models continue on the third floor, the site of the children's museum. Here, children ages 3-12 explore large replications of "stugas," farmhouses and a Viking ship alongside signs that encourage children to travel back to 1870. There's even a plastic vegetable garden where "morot" (carrots), "gurka" (cucumbers) and "potatis" (potatoes) grow. (It's cited as a killer find by moms-in-the-know on the birthday party prowl.)
Admission is $4 adults, $3 children/students/seniors; museum members and children under one year old are free. A $10 family rate is a steal, as is the free admission each second Tuesday of the month.
Centerstage Reviewer: Corrie Driebusch